Greece Interim Trip 2006
Sat.-Mon., Jan 14-16
Today all of the children awoke with the utmost anticipation of venturing to the famed hotel breakfast. Then, once the moods were chilled by cool glasses of pineapple juice, we headed out on our excursion to the seaside city of Kavala. After the tedious 2-hour plus drive, we arrived full of joy in this marvelous little town over-looking our place of Mediterranean heaven. This fabulous city is the site of the ancient city of Neapolis, and the location of the St. Sylas Monastery. Our incredibly stoked group, not fraught with deep pleasure and joy from all of our great Greek experiences, proceeded to the St. Lydias Baptistery where there is one incredibly awesome baptismal pond located in the river. Then we visited the ruins of Philippi. We were both amazed to be stepping on the ground where St. Paul had once roamed and been imprisoned. On our adventure to lunch we were able to see the road Egnatia. After this we headed back to our little seaside haven for lunch. At lunch, we were able to be overcharged for an incredibly overrated and under serviced meal. It was impossible to get enough water for the table to drink and even some bread to nibble on. We then ventured home to our hotel and by the time we arrived we had our group meeting and dinner. Then it was off to bed.
The next day we were treated to a few hours of extra sleep time. When we awoke, there was no time for fun and games...JK! We were rushed to the local entertainment complex to pass some time and Euros before our flight to Crete. While T.H. and half of the group made the wise decision to go hang out and go bowling, A.K. and a few other unlucky travelers decided to watch The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. In Greece they have assigned seating for movie tickets, freaky. As my group proceeded in our excursion around this massive European entertainment complex they like to call a mall, we realized that unlike America, absolutely no stores except the food court are open on Sundays, who would have guessed? Down, but not out, we headed to the food court where we indulged in the best and cheapest meal of our trip to date where the average eater could get 3 giros and over a pint of gelato for a mere 10 Euro. Extremely pleased by this, our group sat satisfied for a while but soon became antsy. B.K. spotted a promising place. As we strolled in we realized that this place was not only a bowling, foosball playing, shuffleboard sliding, and billiard shooting spot for the next three hours of our lives, but a melting pot of Greek culture. As the six of us continued to go on with our heated bowling match, we amassed quite the crowd of Greeks to admire our true American bowling skill. None other than L.R. won the first game and the second was taken in a wave of dominating force by myself. After we were done, we all met up with the group and headed for the airport. We boarded our plane and flew to Crete. In Crete, we met our bus and driver and headed to the hotel to unload. Later we headed to dinner and then back to the hotel for a well-deserved night's rest.
Our first day in Crete had a plethora of activities that included some ruin viewing at the Palace of Knossos and the Royal Palace of King Midas. Both of these fantastic sites gave the whole group insight to the Ancient Minoan civilization. The views from this magnificent and mountainous isle in the middle of the Mediterranean are fabulous. After ruin viewing we headed to the Haralson Archeological Museum where we were about to view famous frescos of "bull leaping" that we have all seen in our history books. The museum also has quite an impressive collection of gold jewelry and giant sacrificial axes. Lunch for the day was a very pleasant experience at a very quaint restaurant with a glass roof and lemon trees inside. The meal was fantastic and the desert was even better, fresh kiwi! After lunch, we headed out for the village of Fodele-the birthplace of El Greco. This town is very similar to a small Texas town. While we were walking down the main street with small houses on one side and orange trees on the other we were treated to boys our age on moped-like motorcycles popping wheelies--not as cool as it may sound. We then headed up this small country road to El Greco’s house and were able to view the small house of one of the greatest and most famous painters of all time. We finished off our time in the town with some pottery making that didn't really work out, but was still a pleasure to try. The night's diner was another experience of Greek dancing.
A.K. and T.H. would like to tell the mommies that are okay because we haven't called as much as we should have. -- A.K. and T.H.
Thurs-Fri, January 11-12
On Thursday, the day started out with our drive to Thessaloniki, the second largest city in Greece. During our bus drive we passed through drastically different terrain. We even passed the infamous Mt. Olympus, home of the twelve major gods of Greek Mythology. The apex of the mountain was obscured in clouds conveniently covering what the ancient Greeks believed was the throne room of Zeus.
After driving around Mt. Olympus we were soon flanked on our right by the sandy coastline of the northern Aegean Sea. We continued cruising along the shoreline of the dark turquoise sea all the way to Thessaloniki. When we finally arrived we drove to the top of the city and stood at the gates of the acropolis. Millions of tiny white buildings reflected the setting sun’s rays and filled the landscape to capacity.
We arrived at the hotel and engaged in a friendly cooking competition. Given a strange array of Greek ingredients we attempted to make delicious hors d'oeuvres. After the taste testing was finished the Brad Pitt team ended up winning.
The next day started out with a short drive to the nice, little town of Vergina. There we visited the Royal Tombs, which included that of King Phillip II. We visited the museum there and saw many of the artifacts which were found buried with the king including the King’s shield, the King’s gold-trimmed iron breast plate, the Golden Wreath of oak leaves, the gold plated collar and the Silver Burial Urns. We also saw the Golden Chest that was discovered inside the tomb of King Phillip, which contained his bones.
After we visited the museum we continued to Pella, the second ancient capital of Macedonia and birthplace of Alexander the Great. There we visited the Archaeological Museum, which contained collections of clay figurines, the classical black and red vases, and the pebble floor mosaics. After seeing the artifacts at the museum we had lunch at a quiet little restaurant in Pella and then headed back to the hotel for a nice, relaxing evening.
Submitted by A. W. and E. N.
Wednesday, January 11
It was snowing when everyone woke up; it covered the rooftops and coated the ground in white. It was beautiful but cold. Our first stop was the ruins of Delphi where we walked all the way up to the stadium. The view from the top was amazing.
While walking back down we stopped at the temple because Mary showed us the oracle’s escape route. So of course some of us had to go through the tunnel. After that we had a four-hour bus ride. We had lunch and then went to visit two monasteries.
When we came out of the second monastery it was snowing heavily. It was so pretty. It was cold enough that a lot of snow stayed on the ground so we had a snowball fight right outside the monastery. Next we went to go see how icons were made and then we went to the hotel that we were staying at.
Submitted by A.N.
Tuesday, January 10
The day started out with an excellent breakfast of toast and jam (basically the only appetizing food for breakfast). We then spent a whopping 4 hours on the bus to the city of Delphi. We got off the bus once for a quick bathroom break and snacks. The place we stopped was actually a bakery consisting of all sorts of wonderful goodies such as loafs of bread and delicious pastries and chocolate.
About an hour after our bakery stop we arrived at our place of lunch. Very cute--they actually served pizza! The most popular dishes were a platter of fried seafood (most inedible like the little fishes that looked as if they had been killed five minutes before the meal), Souflaki (that is a dish of a grilled lamb with rice and vegetables), Moussaka, and pizza. The meal was arguably the best we had thus far. The pizza was a little disappointing with various unknown pieces of meat.
After the delicious meal, we got back on the bus and drove to a museum in Delphi, featuring many ancient Greek ruins. What is surprising about all the museums that we have been visiting is that some of the most famous pieces of art are sort of lumped together in a room with a bunch of other stuff making these key pieces hard to separate from everything else. Also, if you go outside most museums you see a bunch of ancient pieces of building hidden in the back, just lumped casually around the outdoor area. I guess Greece is never at a loss of ancient artifacts.
After visiting the museum, we went on a short walk to see a circular sort of building in Delphi where many sacrifices to gods were performed. Most of us did not walk down to see it closely, but we had a magnificent view up on the hilltop and then proceeded to the warm bus because it was snowing. We then visited a discount clothing shop that specialized in wool and leather products. Unfortunately most of the leather goods were too expensive for our group.
After shopping we had a short bus ride to the hotel. It was a beautiful, cute hotel up in the mountains. We all settled in our luxurious rooms and then a few of us hit the pool (it was heated). M.K. and I were the only girls willing to go into the pool, but discouraged by the boys throwing tennis balls and wrestling in the pool. After an hour of settling in the hotel we went downstairs to a conference room to write in our journals and listen to a few presentations about Greek mythology. Then it was dinnertime--good bread, a spinach quiche, pork with rice and carrots, and sweet red apples. The majority agreed that the dinner was delicious. Overall the food rating for today was a 7/10.
Submitted by L. T-H
Monday, January 9
Today we had yet another early wake up call of 6:45, and then we left the hotel in Nafplio by 7:45. On our long bus drive towards Olympia, Mary (our amazing tour guide) informed us of a few Greek myths, the history of the Olympics, and facts about Olympia. We made a stop along the way at a bus stop that reeked of the worst aroma our noses had ever smelled. After that stop we went to a store that had an eclectic variety of olive oil products. Next we enjoyed a buffet of Greek food, which was deliciously fresh.
As we arrived in Olympia we went to the original Olympic location, and we visited the museum. The statues were surprisingly well preserved and the statue of Hermes fascinated us all. While we were there, Tonya, Sergios, and Maria (our activity leaders) prepared mock Olympic games for us to participate in. After many laughs, we headed to the hotel where we were privileged enough to go into the kitchen and help prepare a wonderful dinner. When journaling and a few presentations were completed we went to our rooms and had a much needed sleep after a long interesting day.
Submitted by T.K.
Sunday, January 8
This morning we left the hotel around 7:45. Our first stop was the Corinth Canal. It was a man-made canal that was about four miles long. When we got there we watched a boat be pulling threw the canal.
Then we went to the Corinth Museum. First we looked around the museum at the displays of ceramics and statues. Then we walked around the ruins located at the museum. We saw the city walls and the Bema where speeches and announcements were given.
Then our next stop was Mycenae. We had to drive for a few minutes to get to the area of the Cyclopean walls and various beehive tombs. First we looked at a beehive tomb, it was named this because of shape of the building, an upside down beehive.
Next stop was the Lion’s Gate. This is the entrance to the inside of the city walls. We went through the gate and walked up the ramps to the very top of the structure. From there we could see for miles all around the hill. Our next stop was lunch at a restaurant called Agamemnon. There we had such dishes as pasta with meat, very similar to lasagna, a dish very similar to that made with eggplant, and pork kebabs. While sitting in the restaurant we heard the chandelier begin to shake. Then we experienced what felt to us to be a very minor earthquake, but we later found out that it was a 6.9 on the Richter scale. We quickly ran out of the room and no damage happened.
Next we drove to the Theatre of Epidarus. Here our tour guide, Mary, showed us a demonstration of the acoustics of the stadium. We could hear coins dropping and paper ripping all the way to the top of the large, open-air theatre. Then we headed to Nafplio, which is where our hotel is, and checked in. We had a few minutes to get ready before we took a brief walk around the city. Then we had dinner in the hotel and went to bed.
Submitted by E.R.
Saturday, January 7
Today we all woke up at about 8 in the morning, had breakfast, and then got on the bus to go to our first destination of the day, a museum of Greek music. The museum had three floors of artifacts and instruments from all over Greece, each floor containing certain types of instruments. Next we went to lunch at a small Greek restaurant. We all had a variety of Greek foods at lunch; including Greek salads, lamb roasted on a spit, and a dessert of yogurt and honey. Later, we took a 45-minute bus ride to see Poseidon’s Temple, a huge monument dedicated to the God of the sea, Poseidon. For dinner, we went to a small seafood restaurant, where after the meal we learned traditional Greek dances and broke plates all over the entire restaurant.
Submitted by B.K.
We woke up around 7:30. After that, we piled into a bus to go see the presidential palace and the changing of the guards, which was very entertaining in that they walked like crazy people.
What also caught our eyes was that stray dogs would chase cars down the street and almost get run over. We also saw lots of orange trees. We were tempted to pluck the succulent oranges, but the policement would not let us. We then went to see the acropolis, which was very fun but having a lot of renovations. After that we went to do a treasure hunt in downtown Athens. It was interesting to see the city, but very hard to walk 2 straight hours. Then for dinner we could go to any restaurants close to the hotel and I tried the popular Greece fast food place called Goodies. Now we are all getting ready for bed and watching Greek T.V. Submitted by B.H.
Chaperones' note: The gods have certainly been with us to this point. Our trip here and the weather today could not have been better. We are traveling with a great group.